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Design Firm Taps Into Veterans' Subconscious to Aid in Designing First-of-its- Kind Recovery Center

PITTSBURGH, Nov. 25 /PRNewswire/ -- Astorino, an architecture, engineering, interior design and construction services firm, along with their affiliate company, fathom, applied innovative research techniques, never before used on a VA campus, for the design of the new Veterans Recovery Center. The Veterans Recovery Center is located on Pittsburgh's H. John Heinz III Progressive Care Center and will be dedicated in a ribbon cutting ceremony on Tuesday, November 25, 2008 at 11am.

Due to the complexity of this user group and the significant impact this type of facility has on all generations of our nation's veterans, Astorino turned to fathom to help them truly understand these veterans and the issues that they face.

"fathom provided a deeper insight into the fundamental issues of veterans, helping the design team step inside the shoes of someone suffering from chemical dependency, mental illness and homelessness," commented Tim Powers, AIA, Atorino's lead architect for the Veterans Recovery Center. "These insights allowed us to truly understand the unique needs of these veterans and to create a design that directly responds to those needs."

The fathom team uncovered subconscious thoughts and feelings of the veterans, staff members, and families through extensive one-on-one interviews, ethnographic (observational) research, interactive discovery sessions, sensory analyses and story-telling. These important insights were then translated and prioritized into specific design guidelines that Astorino and Associate Architect, HDR, used as a roadmap to design a facility where the veterans can fully focus on their recovery

The combined efforts of fathom and Astorino, working side-by-side with the VA Administration, helped to set a new standard in the architectural design and clinical operation of a traditional Domiciliary. The first of their kind, the residential living villas' shift from an institutional to a homelike setting empowers the veterans to take responsibility for their recovery and provides an environment that is conducive to the achievement of individual recovery goals.

"What has proven to be especially effective in this process was the inclusion and level of engagement that it gave the veterans themselves. It gave them a voice in the services that the VA should offer and the types of facilities that need to be created to house such services," said Michael Moreland, Network Director, VISN 4.

As a result of the research findings, the residential living villas were design to create a neighborhood with balconies, front porches, varying rooflines, shutters and picture windows for the patio-style homes, apartments and townhouses. The design allows the veterans to learn necessary life skills that transition them into living independently in the community. Shared kitchen and living facilities as well as washers and dryers have the veterans taking responsibility for their own care -- cooking, cleaning and doing their own laundry.

About Astorino

Founded in 1972, Astorino is a full-service company with a strong team-based approach providing complete architectural, engineering, interior design, and design-build services. This Pittsburgh-based firm emphasizes quality design, innovative solutions and strong project management.

About fathom

fathom is a unique design research company that offers a deep understanding of how subconscious thoughts and feelings can translate into more meaningful design. Through the use of various research techniques (based in psychology, neuroscience, anthropology and architecture) combined with a patented design filter, fathom helps designers connect with users on a more profound emotional, intellectual and experiential level.

SOURCE Astorino
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